Bee calm

A little reminder to focus on the tiny, intricate miracles all around us.

September 12, 2020

This sedum isn’t blooming right now and I doubt many bees are currently buzzing in my yard, but . . .  someday soon.  In the meanwhile, I can gaze upon this image and will my mind and system into calm. *deep breaths* Maybe it can do the same for you. 💚

I receive these gifts

This morning, I ran on the trails for the first time in a while and my heart soared. A Red-winged Blackbird sang its song as I chugged up the first hill, but from then on out it was a magpie-rich experience. They raucously called from trees and flew overhead. One perched on a bush next to the trail and I watched it as I ran closer, regretting that my approach would startle it away. The regal corvid remained there until I was nearly within arm’s reach before flying across the ravine.

Black-billed Magpie out my window.  September 1, 2019

Just up the trail and around the corner on the approach to what we call the Bunny Run (because, you know, bunnies frequently seen there), two more magpies perched on either side of the trail, silhouetted against the sky. That sight prompted me to open my arms wide and proclaim out loud, “I receive this. Thank you!” And as I did, another gift appeared.

Photo by Jim Kennedy (Metzger Farm Open Space)

A coyote about 50 feet away, loping through the brush behind one of the magpies. The dark-faced coyote* stopped to watch me. I stopped and watched it, speaking in a low voice. Reassuring it that I came in peace. Then it took off again and I resumed running. When I reached the top of the Bunny Run, I stopped to look back. The coyote had also stopped to watch me. I waved, shouting my thanks and good wishes, and resumed the run with a smile and a little more pep in my step.

Farther up the trail, I saw two people. As I got closer, I realized one was sitting. In a chair? And then I noticed a hawk circling overhead. I watched the hawk as I ran, wondering at the flash of white underneath the wings. And just as it hit me that it wasn’t a hawk, I heard the loud buzzing sound. That non-hawk was a drone. Ugh. No more bird sounds. No more solitude. No more smile on my face.

But after grumpily running past the people and their drone, I reminded myself of all I’d already been gifted. So I less-grumpily continued up to the turnaround point at the top of The Slog (because, you know, never-ending uphill) and did my stretching. Then I raced down toward the people who sent up an even larger and louder drone right as I passed, and focused on the joy of movement. The only thing that mattered was being out on the trails again. Moving. Alive.

Thank you, universe. I receive these gifts.

* my search for images of dark-faced coyotes was unsuccessful

New week

We had a corvid-rich weekend. It began on Saturday with lots and lots of crows as we walked around a unfamiliar neighborhood (after Emma was too agitated at sight of other dogs in the park we’d gone to for a walk). Multiple flocks of crows flying overhead then perching in various trees. They brought many smiles.

Then yesterday morning, we were in our front yard when a flock of crows flew past. But that wasn’t all. Moments later, this raven perched in the tree across the street for several minutes, making its croaking sound.

Photo by Zippy. March 13, 2022

Today is the first day of a new week. My goal is to embody this raven’s energy, looking ahead to new opportunities and experiences. Courageous in the face of whatever life brings.

Joyful running

Despite my website banner that declares me a “Writer…Runner…Birder,” I haven’t run much over the past five months. A combination of things (notably fatigue resulting from the multiple collective traumas we’re experiencing) has kept me from lacing up the running shoes. Today, I discovered the perfect way to ease back into my much-loved activity and this easy-peasy method requires only two things:
1) a dog
2) snow piles

It goes like this: you run until you spot a patch of relatively clean snow. Then you pause while your canine friend flops onto the snow, plows her nose and forehead through the white stuff (doing the “submarine”), and concludes by rolling on her back to joyfully kick her legs in the air. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Example of Emma’s preferred cooling-down method on hike.  June 12, 2019.

My soon-to-be patented method accomplishes two things:
1) it allows your heart rate to calm down so you’re not tempted to quit
2) it cools off the dog and feeds her enthusiasm for the running

Try it, you’ll like it!

Emma and I ran a total of 2.5 miles this afternoon, taking many, many snow breaks. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t far, but we’re both feeling the good kind of tired that follows a workout.

Emma napping while I stretch, post-run.

Thankful Thursday: glimpses of joy

Life’s hard on a personal and global level these days, and I’m trying hard to find the joy.

  • Here are this morning’s writing session partners (Emma in the front row while Marcel sits in solidarity behind the laptop). The three of us made good progress in our middle-grade novel revisions (and we now have over 100 revised pages).

  • A much-needed zoom therapy session with Sara, who I now refer to as Saratonin (thanks to another client who bestowed the nickname).
  • Twenty minutes in the sunshine after the therapy session, in which I bundled up and stood on the south-face deck as I breathed in cold, clean air, listened to twittering birds, and felt immense gratitude for the natural world.

Snow-laden Mountain Mahogony.    February 24, 2022

Golden Yarrow. 2.24.22

O Monday where art thou?

Here it is nearly 5:30 of the p.m., sun gone for the day as temperatures drop and daylight slips away. I’ll admit, this is my least favorite time of winter days because of the increased risk of gloomy feelings that often involve beating myself up. As in, “you squandered those precious hours and what do you have to show for yourself now that it’s cold, dark, and dreary?”

Not playing those reindeer games today.

Bouquet from BB. February 2, 2022

Right now I’m basking in the glow of my accomplishments: Coffee and Wordle. Exercise.  Smoothing out trouble spots in my middle-grade novel, revising chapter 8, and falling in love with the manuscript all over again. A thoughtful phone conversation with Zebu. Laughter. Laundry. Email plus research for climate action meeting later this week. Finishing the excellent We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan. Healthy eating. Sharing snuggles with dog and cats (with special shout-out to Loki for lying down next to me while I did foam roller stretching).

It is true I respond best to blue skies and sunshine glinting off snow. But on this Monday evening, I’m content.

Apropos

This image of our Christmas Cactus (aka Schlumbergera) is sharp in places and soft in others because the camera’s focus wasn’t evenly distributed. In other words, a perfect image for today.

November 17, 2021

Why? Because:

  1. I’m experiencing ptsd-related issues in which my eyes struggle to process detail**, which means this mixture of sharp and soft feels familiar and
  2. while rereading my critique partners’ notes during today’s session of revision work on my latest middle grade novel, their comments revealed that while some parts of my story were in sharp, undeniable detail, other components were so soft around the edges those readers were unable to interpret intent.

This lovely bloom is a reminder that I need to keep working on my focus.

**for which I’m doing daily vision therapy to bring my eyes back into balance

Twofer Tuesday: House Finch edition

These finches (look closely, there are two) offer a good representation for my current emotional and mental state.

January 1, 2022

Sometimes my feelings are bright, cheery, and upbeat–as they were yesterday while walking in the sunshine with Emma Jean-Jean–and other times my emotions feel more drab and less hopeful, as this morning when tears overwhelmed me during my first yoga session in a while.

The good news is that nature always provides. During that same yoga session, feeders outside the window were visited by a flock of twenty or so wee Bushtits, reminding me of the power of community. Bushtits stick together, chipping and twittering as they forage in a tree and move on to another.

We’re not alone in this difficult reality and I’m grateful for my communities, including this one here.

Sunday Confessional: negative mood

More than four days after taking the saliva test, COVIDCheck Colorado let me know my test results came back negative. Great news! Unfortunately, I feel worse today than yesterday when I was actually able to take a walk around the neighborhood without collapsing in a heap afterward (which is what happened the day before).

Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

I’m sure it’s stress-related. What’s being done to healthcare workers, children, teachers and all school employees, service workers, etc. in the name of capitalism is horrifying and rage-inducing. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck.

Looking forward to regaining my energy so I can run some of these feelings out of my system. Please take care of yourselves and know you aren’t alone. Solidarity!

Mood

Pretty sure I have Covid right now (while being the most introverted version of my introverted self during this pandemic).

Pretty sure Wildebeest has Covid (while working for starvation wages in the restaurant industry that prioritizes people’s “rights” to dine inside, maskless, while the poor/desperate workers drop like flies).

Positive that Zebu had Covid a couple weeks ago.

Absolutely, positive we should (at minimum) be receiving monthly checks along with a package of N95 masks and testing kits from our government. Not to mention, Biden should issue a patent waiver on vaccines to help the rest of the world’s population.

Equally positive none of that’s gonna happen. We the people are expendable in this equation.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Just because

When everything feels cruel and horrific, I lean on natural beauty. This photo isn’t especially special, but gazing upon these coneflowers that bloomed in my garden brings me a moment of inner peace.

July 16, 2020

Maybe it can do the same for you.

#HoopDancingChallenge

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, I counted up my hoop-dancing minutes and found I’d danced for 19 hours that year. That felt impressive and I thought to myself “How cool would it be to dance for 24 hours in 2020?” Well, we all know what happened that year and I didn’t hit the mark. Not by a long shot.

Last night I added up my hoop-dancing minutes: 17.5 hours. While that’s fewer minutes than 2019, there are still 8 days left in this year. I’d only need another 389 minutes and, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. 2021 has  been another extremely difficult year–in some ways much harder than the previous–and I really want to close it out doing something that brings me so much joy.

Self portrait December 24, 2021

According to my complex mathematical computations, I’ll need to average 49 hoop-dancing minutes per day to hit my goal. I just danced for 36, smiling the whole time. Now I’m off to ice my recently de-booted foot so I can get back into the spin later today.

Each of us, magnificent

Today’s reminder for anyone who needs it: show up as yourself. You are magnificent, warts and all! (Or, in this pelican’s case, bumps that form on the bill during breeding season.)

Barr Lake State Park. April 8, 2021

Remember, when you show up as your magnificent, authentic self, you’ll find your squadron.

Shout-out to all who’ve engaged and connected with me in real life and an online capacity: thank you! ❤️

#Caturday message from our sponsor

Tracy is taking this day to do whatever in the hell she wants. Sit in a patch of sunshine. Read a book. Rub my head or that of my brother Loki. Pet that frequently over-amped dog she calls Emma Jean-Jean. Have a snack or nap. Take another leisurely bootless walk. Create or not create. The decisions belong to Tracy.

October 9, 2021

I trust this isn’t a problem for any of you, right?

All right, I’m late for my own nap so I’ll wish you a good day. Be well.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for much, including:

  • My first walking boot-free day in which I walked about 1.5 miles in the neighborhood.
  • An overdue appointment with my behavioral optometrist who’s been taking care of my eyes for a looong time and who, as always, knew exactly what needed to be done to get me back on track.
  • Arriving home after my appointment to find Zippy putting lights in the yard.

Our somewhat haphazard display with bonus feature: Loki in the window.     Dec 2, 2021

  • Afterward, a nice visit with our neighbors and the beautiful and quite-large Rainbow Dash who put her paws on my shoulders to say Hello . . . without knocking me over!

Oh, happy day

My follow-up x-rays came back negative for a stress fracture! What does this mean? Well, I’m now officially transitioning out of the walking boot! And, I just took my first walk in three weeks. A booted walk. The 1.3 mile-walk required the boot because my transition is “boot when outside” and “shoes when inside” for the next 3-4 days.

Right after the appointment, Zippy, Emma, and I walked around Kendrick Reservoir. It was a slow and absolutely glorious walk.

Photo by Dino Lenzini

So many Canada Geese on the water, honking and paddling about. Also, possibly some coots that were too far away to identify with the naked eye. Didn’t matter. I was just thrilled to be out in the sunshine, clomping around the one-mile loop that Wildebeest used to run intervals around while in high school cross country.

Oh, happy day.

Mood

All of it. Fangs, the barely hidden claws, and yes, the filthy window.

October 16, 2021

Not really sure why. This week was illuminating and productive in a number of ways and I accomplished a lot. Still, today’s been tough off-and-on, and right now I resonate with Marcel’s expression.

The good news is that this feeling won’t last forever. In fact, just looking at my silly kitty’s face has lightened the gloom.

Sunday Confessional: I wanted to shove a woman in a ditch

I went for a run on the trails this morning and, as is my routine, wore a bandana around my neck. Whenever I see someone coming my direction, I stop to pull it over my nose and mouth. I do this because running makes me breathe more heavily and I want to minimize the possibility of me infecting someone if I somehow have Covid (and am asymptomatic). Because this was a Sunday, I encountered a greater number of people on the trails (walkers, runners, and one mountain biker). I was the only one masked, but that was fine, and each encounter was friendly. (Okay, the mountain biker reactivated my animus by being an entitled trail-hog.)

Near the end of the run, I saw a person coming toward me. I stopped, masked, moved over to the right, and started running again. When I got closer I realized it was a woman who lives on my street, and I waved hello. Her reply?

She scoffed and yelled, “I’m triple vaccinated!”

As I continued running, I said some bad things out loud to myself. Mostly WTF and what kind of monster shames mask-wearers during a freaking global pandemic and then some stuff about that woman’s intelligence level plus a few choice words about our useless government and how this pandemic is only going to get worse. Whew. Then I reminded myself I was running on narrow, uneven trails with lots of rocks sticking up and that it would truly suck to trip, fall, and add to my collection of scars. So I began chanting my trail-running mantra:

Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.

Image by yellowcat from Pixabay

It worked. I let go of the emotions and made it home without injury. And in writing this out, I just realized that mantra is probably a good all-around reminder to help me stay in the moment during these difficult days.

Feet on the ground.

Thankful Thursday: focusing on fun

A friend who knows my love of birds passed along this 500-piece puzzle after she’d put it together. I started working on it late last night. First, I turned all the pieces right-side-up on the table and took a quick pic which I texted to her with “Let the puzzling begin!”

Her reply: “I hope you don’t get addicted like I did and have a hard time stopping.” 😬

I told her not to worry, that even if I did get addicted, it was fine by me.

Welp, I spent more time today working on this puzzle than attending to most other things on my To Do list. But it felt good for my brain and mental health, so I don’t begrudge the distraction. Plus, it’s birds!

My Saturday

Emma and I ran on the trails this morning. It was my first outdoor exercise in over a week because of the horrific air quality. While the morning’s AQI wasn’t Great, I just couldn’t take another treadmill session. Running outside felt like a reasonable trade-off between lung health and mental health. I brought water for us and we did a mellow 3-miles with me urging her on most of the way. Halfway through the run, she pooped. I scooped it into a rice cake bag, knotted it off, and tied the bag to her collar. It’s tricky enough holding her leash while trail-running (sudden stops and detours really increase the likelihood of wipe-outs) and adding a poop sack was more than I could handle. The good news is Emma didn’t really seem to notice. (I did feel like a bad human-friend once we got back on the streets and ran past people from the neighborhood, Emma’s poop sack swinging for all to see.)

When we returned home, I saw a missed call from Wildebeest. I called back and we ended up conversing for nearly two hours about all sorts of things. While talking, I took my camera outside and continued our conversation on speaker phone as I photographed the zillions of bees on the fern bush.

I eventually told Wildebeest what I was doing, knowing he might freak out or, at the least, get really twitchy and itchy. (When he was a teenager, he got stung by a bee while at outdoor camp and was taken to the nearest hospital where he was jabbed with an epi pen. As bee sting reactions go, his wasn’t uber-serious. Yes, his throat did close a bit but, in his words, he had plenty of time to get to the hospital.) Turned out, my announcement didn’t send him spiraling. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have waded into the fern bush with me to get close-up shots.

And I know for a fact he would’ve steered clear of this specimen:

Yikes. A quick online search for “red wasp” tells me this species isn’t even supposed to be in Colorado?? And I saw several of them on the bush??